Tenants entering into any rental agreement (i.e., YOU) should make a concerted effort to learn about their legal responsibilities and become familiar with the protection granted to them under the law. The following information is not a substitute for legal advice, but is provided as a guide to help you evaluate reasonable expectations for landlords, building managers, and tenants.
Helpful Hints Regarding Written Documentation:
- Get all agreements and commitments in writing and signed by all parties involved; keep copies of everything.
- Always notify the landlord about any problems in person or over the telephone. Follow that first notification with a signed, dated letter noting the problems that you stated in your conversation. Putting the situation in writing will not only look business-like, but will also establish a record if there are problems later. Remember to keep a copy of everything for your records.
- Although it may seem uncomfortable to request that you and your roommates agree to payment schedules, utilities, food, cleaning, etc. in writing, there are many important reasons to do so. Misunderstanding and miscommunication are common; written agreements can prevent small issues from becoming huge problems.
- Keep copies of all documents pertaining to your rental (lease, work orders, maintenance requests, and move-in checklist). Take good notes, including date and time of all communications with your landlord. Having too much information is far better than not having enough.
- Another helpful online resource for tenant/landlord relationships is avalable at mysmartmove.com.
- Federal law prohibits discrimination by a lessor in the rental procedure. Under the law, landlords may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability, or age. [Fair Housing Act under Federal law, and Indiana Fair Housing Law under Ind. Code Ann. § 22-9.5-5 (2009)]
- If you feel you have been discriminated against, it is to your advantage to act quickly: contact the Office of Housing for more information on the Indiana Fair Housing Law.
According to the Indiana Landlord and Tenant Act, a landlord must [Ind. Code. Ann. Â§ 32-31-8 (2009)]:
- Deliver the rental premises to a tenant in compliance with the rental agreement, and in a safe, clean, and habitable condition.
- Comply with all health and housing codes applicable to the rental premises.
- Make all reasonable efforts to keep common areas of a rental premises in a clean and proper condition.
- Provide and maintain the following items in a rental premises in good and safe working condition, if provided on the premises at the time the rental agreement is entered into:
-Plumbing systems sufficient to accommodate a reasonable supply of hot and cold running water at all times
-Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. A heating system must be sufficient to adequately supply heat at all times.
-Appliances supplied as inducement to the rental agreement (IC 32-31-8-5)
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According to the Indiana Landlord and Tenant Act [Ind. Code. Ann. Â§ 32-31-7.5 (2009)], a tenant has the obligation to:
- Comply with all obligations imposed primarily on a tenant by applicable provisions of health and housing codes.
- Keep the areas of the rental premises occupied or used by the tenant reasonably clean.
- Use the following in a reasonable manner:
-Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
-Elevators, if provided
-Facilities and appliances of the rental premises
- Refrain from defacing, damaging, destroying, impairing, or removing any part of the rental premises.
- Comply with all reasonable rules and regulations in existence at the time a rental agreement is entered into. A tenant shall also comply with amended rules and regulations as provided in the rental agreement.
- Ensure that each smoke detector installed in the tenant’s rental unit remains functional and is not disabled. If the smoke detector is battery operated, the tenant shall replace batteries in the smoke detector as necessary. If the smoke detector is hard wired into the rental unit’s electrical system, and the tenant believes that the smoke detector is not functional, the tenant shall provide notice to the landlord under IC 22-11-18-3.5(e)(2).
Tenant Right to Privacy
In the State of Indiana, all information regarding the tenantâs right to privacy is contained in the lease agreed to by the landlord and the tenant. In most cases, leases will specify that the landlord shall have reasonable access to the rental unit upon adequate notice.
- Generally, written or oral notice should be given in a reasonable time prior to entry by the landlord, and entry should be made only at reasonable times as specified in the lease. (IC 32-31-5-6(g)(2)")
- If there is an emergency, the landlord may enter. (IC 32-31-5-6(f))
- If the tenant has requested work to be done, then reasonable effort will be made by the landlord to inform tenants when workers will be entering. (IC 32-31-5-6(g)(2)")